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Red Jasper

Prog Folk

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Red Jasper A Winter's Tale album cover
3.58 | 23 ratings | 4 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Overture (2:44)
2. Introduction (2:47)
3. The Shamen's Song (6:30)
4. The Night Visitor (Dreamscape Part III) (7:43)
5. The Scent of Something (What Every New Day Yearns for Most) (8:06)
6. Ship on the Sea (Jean's Song) (4:32)
7. Bread & Circus's (10:25)
8. Shepherds Revels (4:16)
9. Dark Room (6:29)
10. Sonnet III (5:13)

Total Time 58:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Davey Dodds / lead vocals, acoustic mandolin, thin whistles, bodbran
- Robin Harrison / lead guitar, 12 string angel strung guitar, classical guitar, rhythm guitars
- Dave Clifford / drums, harmony vocals, percussion, vibrasplay
- Jonathan Thorton / bass
- Lloyd George / keyboards, sampling, backing vocals

Releases information

CD SI-Music SIMPly 55 (1994)

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RED JASPER A Winter's Tale ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RED JASPER A Winter's Tale reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progrules
3 stars A Winter's Tale is the 5th release by Red Jasper and successor of their best album A Midsummernight's Dream. I always considered this one somewhat less than the predecessor but it's still a good album.

Overture is an instrumental short track with some different instruments than on their previous album which was dominated by the mandolin and the tin whistle. Here amongst others an organ is detectable. Very interesting. 2,75*.

Introductia is the first vocal track sounding a bit darkish and gloomy, still no true folk sounds so far. 3*.

With The Shamen's Song the album really starts off. On the other hand also this song starts gloomy and slow but after some 2,5 minutes the tempo goes up and the melodies get more substance. Interesting song though still not outstanding. 3,5*.

The Night Visitor is one of my favourites of this album with good guitar and it's compositional impressive. Not strange because it appears to be Dreamscape part III and in my previous review (A Midsummernight's Dream) I already proclaimed the first two parts compositional highlights. 3,5*.

In The Scent of Something the mandolin finally returns. Finally because I believe it is an essential instrument in this band. Another good track but no more than good. The electric guitar at the end stands out. 3,25*.

Ship on the Sea is a very folky track (also here: finally because this album is not as folk loaded as the predecessor. So this one is for the real fans I guess. Nice track. 3,25*.

Bread & Circus's is the longest track of the album but this time it's not my favourite and that's because of the too repititive singing of the title track (over 10 times in a row !). This already annoyed me 15 years ago and it still does. Alas ... 3*.

Shepherds Revels is back on track for the real folk feel sounding somewhat celtic as in a Scottish or Irish folk-dance. Nice up tempo tune. 3,25*.

Dark Room is on itself an average song but the lyrics are mystic and intriguing but what do you expect with such a title ? Nice guitarsolo towards the end. 3*.

Sonnet III is again nice and folky but same as the sonnets on Midsummernight's Dream it is not an outstanding track. 3*.

It reaches an average of just below 3,25 making this a lesser album than the predecessor. Still a pretty nice one if you like prog folk. 3 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Thank goodness that, albeit all too briefly, this Welsh group chose to blend neo prog with British Isles tinged folk rock. Justified comparisons to JETHRO TULL aside, I think that MARILLION meets a more Celtified STRAWBS might be still more apt. While Davey Dodds may sound more like Peter Hammill, his suspenseful and affected styles both recall Dave Cousins. Whatever the influences, RED JASPER came closer than most to bridging two disparate and yet uniquely Anglo styles, and did it some years before GRACE and MOSTLY AUTUMN.

This album is transparently a sequel to "A Midsummer Night's Dream", this time retooling a fur-and-sleighs Shakespearean classic to 1991 virtual realities. While the overall work is not as uniformly arresting as its predecessor, tracks like "The Shamen's Song" and "Bread and Circuses" seem to do a better job of blending the old and the new, as they dance from synth and methodical lead guitar solos to whistle and mandolin led passages with nary a glance backwards. The airy keyboards set a wintry buffet as they accompany the vocal sections in harmony with the mandolins. The lyrics are also amusingly biting, in one case slamming Christianity for abducting Santa Claus and in another taking a shot at the first Gulf War and its showcase for advanced yet unfeeling military methods. The heavy passage at the end of "Shamen's Song" is a master stroke.

In "Introductia", only the melody hints at the pagan; in fact it sounds like a revved down "Blackleg Miner" before the Xmas music enters the stream (the carol name escapes me). "The Scent of Something" tilts the axis more closely to the folk side and is probably the best of that ilk, with a fine tune and buildup at the end. The instrumental boasts a gentrified post-Pogues aspect that is appealing if a little sanitized.

One of my disappointments is that, while there is plenty of fine lead guitar, nothing approaches the heat of the axe-work on some of the tracks on "Midsummer". In addition, a few cuts are guilty of a degree of over-repetition along vocal lines. Finally, one wonders if the group had many more such efforts left in it, although one suspects they would not have been given the chance anyway. It is so sad that, in this age of re-re-re-releases, high quality works like this, which would appeal immensely to fans of neo and Celtic, remain buried in the permafrost of their age, a casualty of prog's iciest season.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Red Jasper fifth studio album from 1994 named A winter's tale is another worthy one in my opinon, keeping same formula, maybe in places even more folk then on predecesor but aswell tinged with neo prog elemets here and there. Again subtle pieces with nice blend of celtic, folk and neo prog. Again influenced by Jethro Tull, this time some piece sounds like on Crest of Knave for example like Dark room, with Davey Dodds voice alterning from Fish to David Bowie in places. The music is agaiin good , from mellow arrangements not far from Strawbs , but melted to more rougher moments not far from Marillion. While the album is not bad, I think is less convincing like the predecesot, is a little to fade, but as a whole is a good album with some very nice moments like Bread & Circus's the longest track from here and Sonnet III. I will give again 3 stars, going very well if you had already listen to Jethro Tull at some point, Marillion, Chandelier from neo side and from folk side Strawbs and Steelye Span. Worth to listen to this band, because they made some decent albums, while never gained much attention in prog circles. Enjoyble band.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars A midwinter night's dream

A Winter's Tale is a very nice companion piece to the band's previous A Midsummer Night's Dream album. Indeed, these two albums can be seen as companions like Queen's A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races albums. However, this should not hide the fact that the band evolved and that in many respects the two albums are quite different from each other. We have here much less of the overt British Folk and Fairport Convention influences and a bit more Strawbs and, perhaps particularly, Barclay James Harvest similarities. The tempo is also overall slower than on the previous album. A Winter's Tale is, then ,slightly less original and slightly less diverse than A Midsummer Night's Dream. But, on the other hand, A Winter's Tale is perhaps slightly more consistent. Anyway, both are solid albums!

We can favourably think of the two albums as representing the seasons of summer and winter respectively. Like summer, A Midsummer Night's Dream is shorter, warmer, swifter, more spontaneous and full of life. By contrast, A Winter's Tale, like winter itself, is longer, colder, slower-moving and more fitting for melancholy and nostalgia. While A Midsummer Night's Dream evokes green hills and forests, flowing streams, festivities and dancing, A Winter's Tale evokes snow covered plains, frozen lakes and a dark tranquillity and calmness. What I just said is also represented visually on the covers of these albums.

The first track is an instrumental "overture" that flows nicely into atmospheric Introductia. The latter features a simply haunting, Celtic sounding vocal performance by Davey Dodds and some mood setting church organ towards the end. This then flows into the Barclay James Harvest/Poor Man's Moody Blues-like The Shaman's Song. The tempo is slow and the mood is serene with a strong presence of sustained lead guitar. The Night Visitor, which is the third part of Dreamscape from the previous album, increases the tempo a little bit. There are again some very nice sustained guitars here and pleasant keyboards.

The Scent Of Something is the first song on this album with strong Folk Rock influences due to acoustic guitar/mandolin and the storytelling type of lyrics. The song alternates between acoustic passages and more intense Rock passages. Ship On The Sea is a haunting Folk ballad with lots of flute/whistle, acoustic guitars and accordion-like keyboards backing up another moving vocal performance. The ten and a half minute Bread & Circuses is perhaps the most progressive number of the album, alternating between calm, Celtic sounding passages featuring piano and acoustic guitars and more intense (Neo-) progressive passages featuring keyboards, electric guitars and strongly Peter Gabriel/Fish- like vocals. The end section of this song is very symphonic with floating, sustained guitar.

Compared to the previous album, as I said, the overt British Folk influences are much lower on this album with only the next track Shepherds Revel being a fast paced Jig based on mandolin and Rock drums in great Fairport Convention style. I would not have minded more of this as I love this kind of stuff!

Dark Room is hard edged Neo-Prog that reminds a bit of Arena, but it is still far away from the intensity of the out-and-out Neo-Prog of Virtual Reality from the previous album. This song also features some calmer, acoustic passages and some effective tin whistle. Finally, the album ends with Sonnet III (Sonnet I and II opened and closed the previous album). As these three Sonnets are musically more like three versions of the same song than different parts of a longer piece, one wonders what justifies this inclusion. However, they enhance it here with a nice guitar solo at the end. This song is not the only backward looking feature of A Winter's Tale, also in the lyrics we find many common themes and fictional characters that figure on both albums, further emphasizing the union of these two albums.

To conclude, all I can say is that even though I prefer A Midsummer Night's Dream over A Winter's Tale (these are the only two albums I have so far by this severely underrated band), both albums are hidden gems and excellent additions to any Prog collection.

Highly recommended in addition to A Midsummer Night's Dream!

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